Friday, April 29, 2016

Don't Bother Me, I'm Resting...

He's six years-old, which is precisely why he is inclined to bask in the approval I offer when he hears that he is my FAVORITE grandson.  It won't be long before the fact that he is my ONLY grandson becomes apparent and bops rain down upon my head from those inflatable boxing gloves he presented to me a couple of years back.  The gloves were a birthday present as I recall and were offered as a way for the two of us to pretend to be Rocky as we slugged our way to the championship.  The problem is:  the kid got good at it.  These days I hide the gloves when I know he's coming.

We hadn't seen him in almost a year, not by design, but because of Linda's continuing recovery from cancer and a stem cell transplant.  It was shocking to see how much he had grown when his mom and he showed up for a long weekend visit.  Kids hate it when adults do the "Look how much he has grown" routine, but we couldn't help it.  I'll bet he is at least a foot taller than the last time we laid eyes on him and wonder if the altitude grandma and grandpa have lost may have found its way to him.

We had plenty of fun last Friday through Monday and then they were gone, back to San Diego and busy young lives.  Just as it should be.  With luck, there will be no more long stretches between visits. Once her doctors clear the runway for travel, Linda and I plan to make up for lost time.   However, right now we're still resting up from a visit from my FAVORITE grandson, Dan-the-man.

Cue the Rocky theme.  It's time to knock some sense into  gramps.

The squirrels in the neighborhood are still asking for him.
The kid discovers grandpa's pool table. Uh oh.

Perfecting his game

Taking grandpa's last dollar.  Who taught this kid to play?!

Friday, April 22, 2016

Mustangs or Money? Try Disaster...

"Because they think it will get them laid," replied Laura Wilkenson when I queried aloud about the seeming preponderance of dumb bastards who owned radio stations.  Laura was not only a talented radio personality she was also someone to count on for a non-PC, BS-free analysis of almost any subject.  She went on to expand on her theory by explaining that "guys with money know they can pick-up more women by telling them they own radio stations than they could by bragging about their chain of nursing homes."  As I mentioned, she never pulled her punches and was wicked smart.  I'll always be grateful to Laura and her then husband, "Fuzz", for getting me back to San Diego after spending five years surfing the dial on my "West Coast Tour" of radio stations.

The Communications Act of 1996 ushered in an era of massive consolidation of radio and television companies that effectively drove a stake through the heart of the smaller broadcast operators who owned only a few properties.  Today only three or four outfits own most all of the radio stations and the emphasis has shifted from SHOW business to BUSINESS.  Where once the lunatics ran the asylum, the accountants now hold sway.  At the time, I actually thought things would be better.  If you've listened lately, you know they're not.

Ah, but let's get back to my story from the days when an insane person could be a radio ringmaster.
At the time Laura and I were working together, the station, an oldies formatted AM & FM, had just been purchased by a chain headquartered out of Phoenix.  The company had several stations located in good quality major media markets and the owner was the son of a man who had been a huge radio celebrity in Minneapolis/ St. Paul.  He had made his fortune in the soft drink bottling business but, probably for the precise reason Laura described earlier, wanted to be in broadcasting.  Okay, that's fine.

Here's where he F' ed up: He turned the operation of the company over to one of the most incompetent nincompoops ever to darken the door of a radio station.  This clown, we'll call him "Jimmy", had been running the Phoenix operation for awhile and somehow convinced the "Big Guy" to let him run the entire corporation.  Naturally, once he got the owner drunk enough to hand him the keys to the kingdom, Jimmy moved the company headquarters to San Diego.  As near as anyone can tell, that was the last smart decision he ever made.

Jimmy arrived in San Diego with an entourage of desert rats that included several drinking buddies, more than a few hookers, an engineer sporting a sub 100 IQ and a GED in electricity, and his coke dealer.  It was a circus of horrors.   Within a few weeks he was well on his way to demolishing both the AM and the FM.  The man meddled in everything from sales to engineering and programing with a tsunami of ludicrous ideas.  One of his promotional "strokes of genius" that initially looked like a fairly good idea turned into merely a stroke thanks to Jimmy's hands-on oversight.  The "Mustangs or Money" promotion involved those of us on the air soliciting phone calls and inviting listeners to, by hitting a number on their touch tone phone, win their choice of either cash or a classic Ford Mustang.  The cars had supposedly been secured from a reputable auction house in Phoenix and initially looked like dandy rides when they were unloaded and displayed in front of the radio station.  Things went downhill from there.  Because we were an "oldies" station which featured mostly 1960's hit music, most contest winners were claiming the dream 1960's era Mustangs as a prize.  So far, so good.
The trouble began as winners drove these newly won treasures off the lot.  Brakes often failed at the first intersection, lights didn't work, convertible tops flapped in the wind and--biggest problem of all--when listeners attempted to register the cars at the California DMV, they discovered that the cars were HOT.  Most of the vehicles had either been reported stolen in Arizona or had been relieved of their serial numbers by a chop shop.  WAY TO GO JIMMY!!

Within a year most of us on the air had been fired to make way for cheaper help as Mr. Wonderful continued to work his Midas touch in reverse and,  not by coincidence,  had implemented his genius on company properties in Seattle, St. Louis, Denver and other cities as well.  The man had managed to wreck the entire stable of stations and was finally shown the door.  While most all of the folks he fired wound up with better jobs at other places on the dial, a few of us at a competing station that demolished Jimmy's masterpiece in less than six months, the last report I had on "the Jimster" he was reputed to be doing termite inspections in Phoenix.  It makes me smile to picture the good-for-nothing bastard covered in dust on his belly in a crawlspace looking for insects not unlike himself.

By the way, if you were lucky enough to have been a winner of one of those "classic" HOT Mustangs, you might want to get that transmission checked.

Friday, April 15, 2016

Moron Detection

For about five minutes twenty years ago guys thought the chicks would dig them if they wore their baseball cap backwards.  

ATTENTION SLOW LEARNERS:  It's OVER!  Put your hat on correctly or get off my planet!  Only the mental midgets with their caps cocked sideways manage to look more mentally deficient than the nimrods with the backward lids.  I will admit that compensation for this criminal display of headgear  manifests itself by allowing for extremely easy identification of idiots, cretins and morons.  Unless you are currently wearing a catcher's mask and actually fielding that position on the diamond, a turned around cap places you firmly in  the mental S L O W lane.

With baseball season here and warm weather head cover once again the order of the day I have prepared a simple tutorial you can reference before deciding to either acknowledge or ignore people you meet.  This advice is just as useful as spotting a "Bernie" bumper sticker or one of those "Co-Exist" dolt detectors that come in handy while driving.  (Note:  When spotting a Toyota Prius with one or both of the aforementioned idiot tags, the proper command is: "Prepare  to ram!"

Here are some photos that should prove useful:

Cap cocked sideways = always carry bail money.

Major stooge, probably doesn't even know he's at the game.

Hollywood tool.  Need I say more?
This is how to wear baseball headgear!

Ball cap would be an improvement.

Nicely filled out cap!
Girls can get it wrong too!
No cap, worse yet, a horse's ass with a PONYTAIL!
Okay, which one is the horse's ass?
I rest my case...

Friday, April 8, 2016

Merle Haggard -- It's Been A Great Afternoon

Back when radio mattered, people would often remark to those of us on the air that it "sure must be cool to get paid for listening to your favorite music four hours a day."  In those pre-Internet days radio was the place we all went for a music fix.  It was our national campfire for culture and popular music of all kinds.  In truth, if you worked in radio, there was very little listening going on in those studios.  Once a song was introduced the headphones came off and phones were answered, papers were read and management pestering was a constant distraction.  A back-timing clock kept air personalities in touch with the time remaining on a song and when to crack the mic.  As a consequence, most radio folks are very familiar with the beginnings and endings of hit records but the in-between stuff is a bit of a blur.  In the interest of full disclosure, I will admit that with the majority of contemporary music it was just fine with me if I missed the meat of dandies like:  "Billy Don't Be A Hero",  "Kung Foo Fighting" and anything by Cat Stevens.  In fact most of the program management flyweights I had to chase out of the studio were usually in there begging me to stop making fun of the music.  Couldn't help myself.  It was sort of the same deal with referring to the general manager as a fat goon and sales reps as "time slimes".  Some things simply must be said.

Where was I?
Oh, yes, radio and music.  What prompted this unscheduled off ramp into broadcast nostalgia was the death this week of Merle Haggard.  Of forty years spent in little rooms talking to people I could not see only two were  logged at country stations. (One in Oakland of all places.)  This was in the early 1980's and, to my surprise, I had a lot of fun.  Country radio listeners are wonderful!  When they call you up it's to ask your size because they're knitting you a sweater or inviting you to dinner.  At rock stations calls often went something like this:  "Hey a-hole I requested Stairway to Heaven an hour ago.  When are ya gonna play it."  After telling them to gargle with razor blades I could get back to promising the program director that I wouldn't continue to compare Cat Steven's music to weasels in heat or call attention to the fact that the Bee Gees can sing about as well as my ass plays harmonica.  And to think I was often accused of not "lovin' the music" in a big way!  The very idea!
Merle Haggard
Which is the long way around the mulberry bush to say that I really DID and still DO like Merle Haggard.  Hank Jr., Willie, Waylon and all those outlaw cowboys were fun to listen to and it was a more than refreshing couple of years spent "honking the howdy hits" as my longtime radio reprobate pal, Bill Moffitt, branded our time in the country radio corral.

I do believe it was "The Moff" who dubbed Merle Haggard the Frank Sinatra of country music.
Nailed it Billy!

Hit the play arrow on this You Tube tone poem from "The Hag" and enjoy.  Somewhere he's kickin' out the footlights and puttin' on a show.

Friday, April 1, 2016

I Pee, Therefore.....I Go Where?

When I was a kid my grandparents still had an outhouse.  Lots of people in rural and small town America had them.  Even though southern Illinois may have made the leap to indoor plumbing,  grandma and grandpa weren't yet certain that those new fangled toilets would catch on.  Also, the little house out back required less upkeep and seldom required a wait (or paint).  A good can of bug spray for the all but inevitable hornets nests and  obligatory olfactory impaired spider or two was certainly more budget friendly than a call to the local plumber.  Oh, sure you had to keep an eye out for local high school hoodlums who thought it great fun to reposition the privy a few feet from its foundation, but otherwise it was trouble free.  
Those were simpler times.  Lately, it seems as if not a day passes without some sort of dust up regarding who can use what public restroom.  Apparently there are men who want to be women and women who want to be men and I guess that's fine by me.  Frankly I don't see the problem if your shorts are in conflict with your outward appearance.  Who is going to know you're sporting the wrong equipment for the restroom you've chosen unless you loudly announce it to the immediate world?  Let's say you're a guy who thinks he's a girl.  If you're properly attired, just waltz into the ladies room and use one of the stalls  they are rumored have in there.  Heck, you can probably even sneak in a nap on one of the couches I hear tell are available if you're suffering the vapors.  Problem solved.  A gal who thinks she's a boy calls for slightly more finesse.  You'll have to at least pretend to be a little bit crude and a ton more messy.  A few minutes preparation with the day's sports pages will go a long way toward helping you pass.  "How 'bout those Mets?" uttered while standing at the urinal will help you fit right in.  (Keep in mind that you'll need to adjust team loyalties by consulting your current location.)  Also--and this is of utmost importance--it is always EYES FRONT while standing at the trough! (Also, no more than three shakes!)  If all of this is really too much for you, take comfort in the fact that, for guys, the world is your bathroom.  Find a good tree or, when desperate, a bush or car belonging to someone you don't like will do just fine.

Bruce (oops, Caitlin) Jenner didn't know he had it so good.  At least he/she had the good sense to remain a conservative.