26 April 2008

Where's Chris Schenkel when we NEED him?

First, it was Michael Dukakis and the army tank.

Then it was George H. W. Bush and pork rinds.

And we also had John "A Hunting We Will Go" Kerry, who donned some fresh, still-creased camo ..... but don't worry, he didn't kill anything.

Now it's Barack Obama, and what has been dubbed "Bowling For Votes."
And after all that effort, the best he could do was a 37?

A 37 game. Great crispy Buddah on an ugly polyester shirt, both of my nieces (ages 5 and 7) could do better than that. Now I enjoy bowling, although I'm no expert at it. My technique may well earn some guffaws from folks around me, but at least I can usually bowl a 100 or better. Seriously, if I can roll a three-digit game, I'm happy.

Okay, far be it from me to make a judgment call about a person as a candidate based on their bowling score. A perfect 300 ain't a prerequisite for what it takes to live in the White House.

It's just the act of doing this. He went bowling as a misguided, laughable attempt to "appear like one of us lowly working schmucks." This almost has to be his handlers; I find it hard to believe it was Obama's idea. And throughout the whole ordeal he may well have been thinking, "Who am I? Why am I here??"

What's more disturbing is how a lot of Mr. & Mrs. Doublewide America actually buy into this charade. None of the candidates are "one of us." And especially not The Guy At The Hardware Store Who Makes the Keys, nor Miz Annie Oakley. Why can't people make educated choices, choices which have nothing to do with pathetic photo-ops.

Over a succulent lunch this rainy afternoon at the Golden Corral in beautiful Bluffton, S.C., I had a brainstorm. After which my wife admonished me never to have one again. I thought -- well, since America is obviously low-brow and stupid as a country, why not get this idiotic fight over with. Must we muddle through this ugly battle until November?

Of course not. Why wait? Let's find a good bowling alley somewhere in middle America. Say ..... ohhhh, I don't know ..... Kansas City, Missouri. And there, stage The Pro-sidential Bowlers' Tour. One (1) single game of bowling. McCain v. Clinton v. Obama v. Barr (who'll likely be the Libertarian candidate).

One game, and whomever gets the highest score becomes our next President.

I'd pay good money to watch that. And, good sport I am, I'd accept the winner, regardless of which party (s)he may be.

I mean, c'mon -- would John McCain or Lurleen Hillary Clinton do any better at your friendly neighborhood AMF alley than Obama?

My bet is none of 'em would know how many finger holes are in your average bowling ball.

(And no, Seraphim, I'm not counting your Grandmother's four-hole ball. That woman, feisty ornery coot she, is still an active league bowler at age 90)

So, how about it?

Ciao for niao.

--Talmadge "Thankfully, there are no chads on a bowling score grid" Gleck

23 April 2008

Drive-by college memory

This morning, I noticed the Gideons were on the campus of Armstrong, passing out their trademark little green New Testament Bibles.

It took me back to my college days in the '80s, when the group did the same thing. The bibles haven't changed one bit. The Gideons were usually out once per semester.

No high pressure here .... very cordial gentlemen, these Gideons. Would that other religious people were of that stripe.

It does recall a funny memory from my ASU days. Lynda, my then-girlfriend, called me at about 9:15 (my first class was at 10), and said just one thing, and said it in a low, ominous voice: "Beeee-waaaare ooooof the Gideeeeeeeeonnnnnnns...."

I went over to my 8th-floor window, with my panoramic view of the post office and Caraway Road, and - shore 'nuff - I saw little specks of green being handed to passing students.

You had to have heard her say it ....

Ciao for niao.

--Talmadge "Rocky Raccoon, checked into his room...." Gleck

21 April 2008

Superiority complex

A little e-Bay splurging last week brought this motel directory into our mailbox today. $4.00 and change, with shipping, gave me the 1967 Superior Motels "Complimentary Directory."

Just look at that line-art "family" above. The kid is wearing a friggin' suit! The only thing missing on Mr. Patriarch is the requisite hat. He appears to be traveling on business and bringing the wife and kid along for a little ancillary fun and frolic. Dear ol' Dad looks like he's fixin' to whip out that Diners' Club card and charge themselves a nice, upscale $12.99 room.

In addition to your Atlantic-Richfield gasoline card (today they're known as ARCO), you could also use your American Express -- that old shield logo just brings back those idyllic days of traveling -- or the original plastic, Diners' Club, or that really high-falutin' card, Carte Blanche.

Some locations even accepted the new BankAmericard (today Visa), but not many. MasterCharge didn't exist yet. You see, the 1960s were still the golden age of the so-called "T&E card." (That's "Travel and Entertainment" (I did not say "T&A card", so get that tongue back into your mouth and stop snickering like Beavis & Butt-head).

T&E cards were mainly for the upper-crust bidness traveler and high-roller personal jetsetter and globetrotter. You had to be careful, 'cuzzin the entire balance was due at month's end.

So, what was Superior Motel? It was a "referral chain" - a group of independent motels who banded together to compete with the monolithic chains like Holiday Inn, Motel 6 or Alamo Plaza. Together, they were able to achieve better economies-of-scale, more buying power (read: centralized purchasing, just like Holiday Inn, et al), yet retain each property's individual charm.

Other groups in this category included Quality Courts (the first referral chain), Best Western and Master Hosts (doorknocker logo). They were all non-profit groups made up of fellow innkeepers, who vigorously enforced quality control and didn't hesitate to kick out a property if they didn't meet certain standards of cleanliness, amenities, appearance, etc.

We know them today as meaningless "mission statements" but in 1967 some businesses had what were called "creeds" which they took seriously. Read the above. It seemed like these motel operators actually gave a squadron of flying f-bombs about pleasing the customer.

Those rates. Those amenities. The innkeepers' names being .... horrors! ... something besides rhymes-with-"K-Tel" I love the whole feel of the Spartanburg motel's owners being listed as "Your hosts."

Referencing my post last year about Santee, South Carolina, there were once two (2) Superior member motels: the Gamecock and the Lake Marion Inn. The Gamecock description above indicates its finger-lickin' good restaurant features "Kentucky Fried Chicken."

And the Lake Marion Inn north of Santee sits abandoned along old US 15/301, and there is but one remnant of its old affiliation, a portal sign:
"A ... Motel." Enter. Stay with us. You, a bed full of field mice and a homeless wino or two. Circulating water drips constantly from the leaky ceiling.

While it's long gone as an organization, there's one "Superior Motel" still in existence up in Farmington, Maine. Same signage, too.

One Superior property would make free reservations for another fellow member motel in another city, using a simple phone call. You paid the clerk of your departing motel and all you had to do is present the receipt voucher and it was good as cash at your next night's stay.

Somehow I don't think the line-art images of smiling people were far off the mark. Compare that to now, when finding "warm, friendly hospitality" in a motel today is like pulling teeth, unless you're near a Drury Inn property.

Doesn't all this just make you wish it were 1967 again?

Ciao for niao.

--Talmage "Superior to Inferior" Gleck

What happened to my heart?

Oh yeah, I gave it to some woman in a Winn-Dixie parking lot in Eufaula, Alabama.

Damned panhandlers..........

Ten years ago tonight, Seraphim officially became my 'significant other' (read: exclusive cardio-property of the other). Making for a nice, round ten years.

She was wearing a red top and I still remember her face in the car when we both - for lack of a better phrase - "agreed to go steady." Sera looked positively beautiful.

A decade later, she still looks awesome.

Happy anniversary, my best friend, girlfriend, wife and partner in whatever life throws at us.

I love you.

--Talmadge "Heart transplant" Gleck

11 April 2008


You Passed 8th Grade Science

Congratulations, you got 7/8 correct!

Amazing ... because science was one of my weakest areas. Thomas Dolby would've been ashamed were he to have seen my report cards back in the day.

Ciao for niao.

--Talmadge "You'll go blind!" Gleck

10 April 2008

You mean kids WORE this dorky thing?

Baby boomer toy fun:

It even has TURN SIGNALS!

[for the benefit of those visitors from Savannah, Georgia: A "turn signal" - also known as a "blinker" - is a device standard on all motorized vehicles. A lever, mounted to the left side of the steering column, is moved upward or downward, activating lights on each side, front and rear. They flash, which - we assume - indicates to fellow motorists around you in which direction you intend to turn, merge or whatever. Try 'em sometime, they don't bite.]

--Talmadge "Why didn't they make Super Helmet Eight?" Gleck

Looking a gift vein in the needle

Tuesday morning I received a phone call from the American Red Cross. Now, since they weren't actively selling anything, they weren't "marketing." I suppose, given the purpose of this call, the term for this woman (who called herself "Jennifer") would be Tele-blood-eter.

Back on February 11th, Seraphim and myself both went to the Red Cross office on the southside and each donated a pulmonary pint. The week before, the Imperial Sugar Company's refinery near Savannah exploded, killing some 13 people. There was a critical need for blood, so we did our part -- important, since we both have O-positive blood ... the so-called "universal" type.

The Red Cross has a rule saying one can only give blood every 56 days (eight weeks), so at first I thought this might've been a "courtesy call" to that effect, as our 56-day mark was Monday, the 7th.

I would've found that annoying enough; however, 'Jennifer' went on to say (from a script, obviously) "Your area has a less-than-one-week supply, yadda-yadda-yadda, giving one pint of blood saves up to 6,572 lives, yadda-yadda-yadda. You're now eligible to donate again, so on what day can I set you up with an appointment?"

Talk about chutzpah. First of all, I do have a functioning calendar. Several, even. Second of all, I did indeed notate Day #56 on one of them. Third of all, one thing which makes me see shades of deep red is the "positive assumption" sales strategy: "So when will you be buying our product?" Finally -- and this really gets the blood boiling (how appropriate, eh?) -- I do not like it ... no, I BURNING HATE IT when non-profit organizations try and further milk those who give of themselves from their own hearts and consciences.

It is beyond tacky -- even RUDE, in my book -- to pressure a person who has just given to your cause, with true heart, to give even more. Your job is to encourage other people to help you out, not to further squeeze those who have already helped. Can you say "alienate"?

In most cases, I would tell the organization where to stick it. Congratulations, you've just lost a donor. Now you're going to have to work twice as hard to replace whatever I would've given you at my next opportunity.

Thing is, we're talking about blood here. This is a lot more important than money for a non-profit agency that'll squander it for their executive director's new SUV. My donation wampum will be used 100% toward those who need it.

And again, having O+ blood, I carry extra-precious cargo. It would be horribly selfish of me to withhold my blood, when I'm able to donate it without any side-effects (read: doesn't faze me one bit), just because of some pushy script-reading zombie in a cubicle somewhere in the bowels of the 212 area code.

Insert gratuitous PSA here: Giving blood is a good thing. And the laws of Karma apply to everybody; you might need blood yourself someday.

(So, if you meet somebody who came out of the hospital after a blood tranfusion, and (s)he suddenly jerks forward and swoons when they pass a well-maintained old neon motel sign late at night, all lit up and flashing .... and then goes crazy if they see Squirt at the grocery store, wellll you can reasonably assume that they now carry some of Talmadge Gleck's blood. Lord help them.)

I was about to tell 'Jennifer' that I never give out of pressure or guilt, that I only give from the heart. But I stopped, and realized something: I was giving from the heart. Literally.

What I did say to 'Jennifer' was, "I am aware of what my calendar says, but my schedule is such that I cannot commit to an appointment time. Right now, blood drives are happening left and right around here, and my plan -- indeed, our plan -- is to show up at the next drive compatible with our location and schedule, and again part with our pints."

And her response? (obviously from her script) "There's a critical need. We really need you to make an appointment for this week."

Man, that chutzpah meter was pegging. I repeated, "My schedule does not permit such a commitment. My plans are to again give blood some time during April. That's all I can do."

'Jennifer' closed by giving her name, and her phone number ... a really hard one, folks ... 1-800-GIVE-LIFE. So let me get this straight: I would make an appointment with the national office, who would then alert the local chapter office. What if the local chapter had already filled up their book? The opportunities for mix-ups and communication snafus are too numerous to mention.

Bottom line: Next blood drive nearby, Seraphim and I will be there with bells on. Not a moment sooner. Or later.

One nation under greed. Geez.........

Ciao for niao.

--Talmadge "Pint-size Donation" Gleck

09 April 2008

Puddy is 13 today.

Happy birthday, my Sweetie Girl.

I yuv yew.


07 April 2008

Angel Luke

Seraphim has already posted the sad news about our "granddog" and Puddy's son Luke. He lost a valiant fight with heartworms. Luke was 9.

Could this explain, in some weird, twisted and cosmic way, why Puddy has acted a little more affectionate than usual today? I worked early and got home about 2:00; Puddy has been more than my shadow all afternoon and much of this evening, save for getting out to do a little grass mowing and for an early-evening visit to Lowe's (something I'll be posting about a little later).

I never got close to Luke -- the two boys were more the spitting image of their Daddy (a cocker spaniel named Roscoe - R.I.P.; talk about a whirlwind dog to the end!) than of their Mommy. Still, it doesn't lessen the sadness I feel. I'm sure right now, Luke is breaking Alpo with his three siblings, the 'weakest links' of Puddy's original litter of nine.

Below is a picture of the three dogs in their prime. I took it Thanksgiving Day 2002. They've spent their entire lives in the backyard at my in-laws' house south of Albany, Ga. Daisy is on the left; she's my MIL's "baby" and has a disposition so much like Puddy's that it's spooky. The only difference between them is that Daisy has the white color around her nose.

The terrible part is, I've never been able to tell the difference between Bo and Luke. I could take a guess and say he's on the right, but I'm sure I'd be wrong.

Luke's health took a nosedive over the last couple of weeks, and the plans were for my FIL to take him to the vet and have him put to sleep. Luke didn't make it. He died in the backyard. In a way, I take a comfort in that. His brother and sister -- indeed, his "family" -- were there.

And that gives me immeasurable amounts of comfort.

Luke's death has me worried about a couple of things. First, the survivors - Daisy and Bo. If one was infested with heartworms, what about the other two?

And second, my attention draws itself back to Luke's mother, the ornery yet lovable slice of canine womanhood to my right. She's in her usual position, sprawled out and snoozing in the doorway of The Music Room™.

Above, she's looking at me as I had to take a picture of her just before beginning this post. This is Puddy, at about 10:45 this evening. There has to be hundreds upon hundreds of pictures we've taken of Puddy over the years, yet it's just not enough. There always has to be just one more.

Luke's 'bridge crossing' only brings the 800-pound St. Bernard to my mind's forefront. That being Puddy's escalating age. April 9th is her birthday, and Wednesday the old girl officially becomes a teenager. That's 91 for you and me.

Puddy had her annual checkup and shots in mid March, and she received a clean bill of health. The only problem is that cataracts have taken root - started over a year ago, according to the vet. Her right eye is now one big cloud, and I see some beginnings of cirrus formations in the other. I figure within the year, our sweet girl will no longer be able to see us. I know dogs don't rely so much on sight as they do on smell and hearing. Meanwhile, we've already resolved not to move a single piece of furniture in our home until ....


This evening I told Seraphim, "I hope Puddy lives 'till she's at least 50, because I don't know if I'm going to be able to take the inevitable." Yes, it's going to happen someday. Hopefully way later than sooner. I know a couple of people - one in particular is a band director friend of mine in Alabama - who had the cruel, yet dignified honor of conducting that so-called "final act of love."

Puddy, technically, is Seraphim's dog. She picked her out - no, Puddy picked HER out - of the litter in 1995. Raised her from a pup. And Seraphim's amazing furry baby, I've said before in this space, barked at me incessantly when we first started dating. It took her a month or so before the girl finally "accepted" me.

Today? I swear I haven't done anything to influence this, but Puddy is first, last and foremost a "Daddy's girl." Sera usually goes to bed a little earlier than I do, but does she go "night-night" with Mommy? Nope. When my wife tries to coax her, Puddy will often duck underneath the computer table beneath me.

She only goes to bed when I get in there.

Did I mention the repurposed stepstool? The one Seraphim got for me after we moved into this house. I bought a number of CD/VHS shelves, practically floor to ceiling in this room, and the little unfinished-wood stepstool was for me to easily reach the higher points in my library.

That stepstool hasn't been in this room for a couple years now. Puddy can no longer jump onto the bed with us, and that to me was unacceptable. I moved that stool into our bedroom, put a couple of bath rugs on it for traction, and 'trained' her to use it to easily step up onto the bed.

When I make my monthly junkets to Alabama to visit my son, I have to hide the suitcase (I'll let her outside to "go potty", then I move the packed suitcase through the hallway and outside to the car!). Puddy knows what a single suitcase in my hand means: a weekend without Daddy. She mopes.

Yeah, I couldn't love her more if I'd raised her myself.

Well, this was supposed to be some reflections on Luke ... it wasn't intended to be yet another gooey and sickening paean to Puddy.

Can't help it, sorry.

Ciao for niao.

--Talmadge "Puddy-whipped" Gleck

06 April 2008

February 1981: Turntable whiplash!

Just landed into my hot little hands: the American Top 40 countdown for the week ending February 14, 1981.

I came away from listening to this one with a big question: was top-40 radio really this depressing in 1981?? Yes, '81 was one of those watershed years in pop music -- disco had clearly overstayed its welcome and (mercifully) imploded, and what we've come to associate most with the 1980s -- the MTV-inspired synth-pop and "hair metal" -- had yet to pull up in the driveway (for one thing, the launch of MTV was still six months away). I guess you could say there aren't a whole lot of inspired moments in this survey.

So, where was Talmadge Gleck on February 14, 1981? I was in 10th grade at Central High School in Cape Girardeau, Mo.. I'd passed my written drivers' test two weeks earlier, and for the moment had my learners' permit. I was fixin' to embark on what would be my first "real" date -- the following Friday (20th). Her name was Lesley, and the movie we'd see was 9 to 5.

Rock radio in Cape, circa early 1981, was all about two FMs: KGMO (mostly top-40, and they missed the phone call telling 'em disco was dead) and KJAQ - "Q-99" (the newcomer automated top-40/AOR mix). AM hit music was pretty much over in Cape Girardeau; weeks before, KGMO-AM flipped to country (KEWI). KJAS and KGIR were already mellowing out. 45 miles to the south, KYMO was still rockin' out on AM from East Prairie. I miss KYMO -- how could a little one-lung 500-watt AM daytimer in a small town of barely 3,000 people have such a big sound, cookin' JAM jingles, reverb and beautifully-engineered uber-compressed audio.

Also this month, cable TV FINALLY made it up to our neighborhood!! And I discovered something really cool: If I hooked the cable to the antenna input of my stereo system, I could pick up all of the St. Louis stations, including the great album rocker "K-SHE 95." Swoon.

Yup, there was good listenin' in Talmadge's basement bedroom on 2048 Anthony Drive!!

February 1981 for me gave feelings of hope, excitement (holy crap on a tongue depressor, a girl actually wants to go out with me!!!), and still having to walk to Mickey D's or Burger Rich for lunch ... Central had an open campus, and those were the only two places close enough to hoof it if one didn't yet have their license.

So, if you're ready, let's saddle up and mosey on up the 40-mile trail ... yippie-aye-yay!
(as usual, the debut songs are marked with an asterisk)

*40) GHOST RIDERS IN THE SKY / The Outlaws
I'd forgotten about their cover of this, um, classic. It got some airplay on Q-99 and KYMO, but that was about it. KGMO didn't touch it with a 10-foot mirror ball.

Yes, Virginia, Acca-Dacca squeaked - or should I say stormed - into the 40 with a track that's become one of the most B2AC classic rock staples in the repertoire. Not many straight top-40s touched it, particularly in the larger cities. Again, Q-99 and KYMO jumped on it. KGMO didn't let it past the lobby.

*38) LIVING IN A FANTASY / Leo Sayer
Out of all these songs, this is the one which causes all of what I was thinking, feeling, worrying, hoping ... makes it all come back. Sayer had some bigger hit songs (love "Long Tall Glasses", looooathe "You Make Me Feel Like Dancin'"), however this one is my favorite. Even today, it's a well-produced little pop record.

37) DE DO DO DO, DE DA DA DA / The Police
You know it. You've heard it a million times. Perhaps you've even bought the 45, or the album (Zenyatta Mondatta). Or even the fictional 'video disc' by Tom Munroe (Rick Moranis on SCTV) ... who turned this song into a piece of lounge music back when Richard Cheese was probably still in diapers!

*36) WHAT KIND OF FOOL / Barbra Streisand & Barry Gibb
The sound of Barry Gibb's voice, at least to this 16-year-old's ears, screamed "DISCO" and "1970s!!!" What's more, I cannot stand Babs. Hated the song then ... and I strongly dislike it now.

And yes, KGMO was all over it. The first of many, too many ballads on this countdown. 1981 was full of 'em.

35) AH! LEAH! / Donnie Iris
While 1981 was top-heavy with ballads and country-crossover crap, here's one of those rare "inspired moments" I was referring to. One of the best songs of 1981, it's a piece of power-pop magic.

34) KILLIN' TIME / Fred Knoblock & Susan Anton
I'd forgotten about this record. And this weekend I was reminded of it again. Damn, damn, damn. It's a ballad, and a country-crossover one at that. Knoblock was a half-roasted Kenny Rogers clone. Like passing off dark meat as white.

*33) KISS ON MY LIST / Daryl Hall & John Oates
Lesley's kiss was on my list. But it took another month for that to happen.

*32) RAPTURE / Blondie
What if Marvin Martian ate cars, bars, TVs and guitars instead of hunting down rabbits with an Illudium Q-36 Explosive Space Modulator®?

31) TIME IS TIME / Andy Gibb
My testicles hurt. That's two Gibb songs already, and we aren't yet into the top 30! Okay, I admit I had a closet semi-like for the song, spitting in the face of my emerging/raging AOR sensibility.

30) HEARTS ON FIRE / Randy Meisner
So, who was the first member of The Eagles to chart on his own? (besides Joe Walsh - he had a solo career before joining the group) Don Henley? Glenn Frey? None of the above; it was Meisner!

29) I MADE IT THROUGH THE RAIN / Barry Manilow
American Top 40 is brought to you by Cream of Wheat. See happy little girls Delilah and Celine just inhaling the stuff? (I think you can tell that I'm not - as Seraphim once infamously said - "a fanilow of Barry Manilow")

28) GUILTY / Barbra Streisand & Barry Gibb
Can you say "Gibb fatigue"??!!

27) LOVE ON THE ROCKS / Neil Diamond
What the hell IS this? AC-40??!! Any mellower, and you won't be able to tell the difference between AT40 and The Lawrence Welk Show!!

26) GAMES PEOPLE PLAY / Alan Parsons Project
Finally, something uptempo. Games, you say? Okay, Mr. Gibb in the disco with the platform shoe.

25) SMOKY MOUNTAIN RAIN / Ronnie Milsap
Whoops, back to the Nashville pop-country crossovers. Is anyone else getting whiplash??

24) TREAT ME RIGHT / Pat Benatar
"What's with dem electrified gee-tars? You're chasin' away all th' 18-35 wimmen!!"

23) A LITTLE IN LOVE / Cliff Richard
Okay, 18-35 wimmen, you can come back to our station now.

22) HEARTBREAK HOTEL / The Jacksons
"Oh, my lucky stars - a Negro!" Do you realize we're damn near halfway through this survey, and this is the first song by a black artist! (This is 1981, which means Michael Jackson was of the African-American persuasion, and was still in possession of a functioning nose and male genitalia)

This "Heartbreak Hotel" is a different one from the Elvis standard, and I liked it. So sue me.

Been there, done that, got to Troy from Montgomery this way many, many times.

20) HELLO AGAIN / Neil Diamond

19) TOGETHER / Tierra
Cover of a 1967 song by The Intruders. Tierra was a hispanic group which played R&B music.

18) IT'S MY TURN / Diana Ross
Yes, it is. And I'm quitting the game, and putting all of my money and title deeds in the middle.

17) CRYING / Don McLean
After all this MOR, I was beginning to shed some tears myself. Maybe this explains why stations like Q-99 and KYMO leaned heavily toward album rock during this era.

16) I AIN'T GONNA STAND FOR IT / Stevie Wonder
Stevie never let us down, not even in 1981. Wasn't as crazy about his previous single ("Master Blaster"), as I was about "Stand."

Clearly, ABBA landed on Free Parking. And won the game.
"I don't wanna talk" about how I detest all but a couple of this group's songs.

14) MISS SUN / Boz Scaggs
A melancholy-flavored hit, but it's one of those singles which makes it feel as if I were my son's age again.

This song almost makes me want to consider homosexuality.

Paradise Theater was among the 'must-have' LPs during my sophomore year. TBOT wasn't my favorite track (I think "Snowblind" might have that honor), but the next single later in the Spring of '81 -- "Too Much Time On My Hands" -- would be a fun memory of Lesley's successor, Paula.

11) SAME OLD LANG SYNE / Dan Fogelberg
....and after we finished our mad, passionate sex in the dairy case, we had some wild and kinky sodomy in front of the baking products ("Clean-up on Aisle 5!!"). That was followed by an ugly fight in the breakfast aisle .... then finally, our big breakup in the Express Lane.

Fortunately, they didn't ask for a Kroger Plus card.

(Yes, I like the song)

10) HEY NINETEEN / Steely Dan
Another sweet memory, although I'm fonder of their follow-up single from Gaucho, "Time Out of Mind."

9) GIVIN' IT UP FOR YOUR LOVE / Delbert McClinton
Was this really in the top ten??? It was all over the radio -- both KGMO and Q-99 played it, and often. A good pop song it is, and too bad it's almost never heard anymore.

Right here, we had a "Long Distance Dedication." It was from a shy kid who was afraid of women. Eventually he made friends with some, including the "beautiful homecoming queen." Then one fateful night at the skating rink, Said BHQ asked Shy Kid to skate with her.

He was so thankful that he asked Casey to dedicate the 1978 ABBA song "Name of the Game" to her.

Yeah. That'll show her.

8) KEEP ON LOVING YOU / R-E-O Speedwagon

If ever a song can define not just a particular part of a school year, but the entire high school experience.....

6) WOMAN / John Lennon
Two songs in the top ten from the same album (Double Fantasy), and adjacent to one another this week. Lennon's murder was two months earlier, and was still painfully in our memories.

5) PASSION / Rod Stewart
"Even the president needs ... PASSION!!" Arkansas' Teenaged Governor Bill Clinton, upon first hearing it, replied, "I know that's right."

4) THE TIDE IS HIGH / Blondie
And it is, too. I bought some more last week. It's really cool how those "2x ultra" detergents yield 64 loads to each container.

3) I LOVE A RAINY NIGHT / Eddie Rabbitt
Yee-haw! Pop Country ruled in 1981 ... if you weren't on a mechanical bull, you just weren't riding.

2) 9 TO 5 / Dolly Parton
What this song needs .... is more typewriter bell!

And make sure your whiplash collar is good and tight before reading any further. #1 this week was:

1) CELEBRATION / Kool & The Gang
Second week on top of the survey. Another one of those "You know it, and you can hum it in your sleep" records. Overplayed in any format, except maybe country -- and even then, I'm not sure it doesn't get played.

Now you can celebrate the end of this post.

Keep your feet on the Ciao, and keep reaching for the niao.

--Talmadge Coast-To-Coast

04 April 2008

"...shot rings out, in the Memphis sky"

Some meandering thoughts on this, the 40th anniversary of a national tragedy. Martin Luther King, Jr., the day after a spooky premonition-filled speech, indeed "went to the mountaintop", thanks to an assassin's bullet. A bullet that forever changed the great city of Memphis, Tennessee.

While Mempho was a bit behind places like Atlanta with race relations -- there was the matter of a garbage workers' strike, the reason King was in town to begin with -- overall, things weren't as volatile there as opposed to, say, Montgomery, Alabama or Jackson, Mississippi. Simply put, there ain't no way Dr. King would've walked out unprotected like that onto a balcony anywhere in Alabama, or especially (!) Mississippi. But he did in Memphis. And paid with his life.

You're no doubt familiar with the two pictures commonly shown - especially the men still on the balcony of the Lorraine Motel, pointing in the direction of the building from which James Earl Ray pulled the trigger.

Today, the Lorraine is home to the National Civil Rights Museum. And, like Beale Street, it's been given a new lease on life.

Compare that to when I was in college 71 miles away in Jonesboro, Ark. When I first started at ASU (August 1984), Beale was a slum street where one took their life in their own hands even during the daytime! But by 1986, the seeds of a new Beale had begun to germinate. Rock 103 - long before a certain company (rhymes with Clear Channel) ruined it - set up its studios in a storefront on Beale. Things were beginning to cook. And look at it now!

At the same time, the Lorraine Motel was a run-down building in a very seedy area. It'd been foreclosed on a couple years earlier after a sad decline (MLK's assassination pretty much spelled the beginning of the end for the Lorraine - once a premiere quote-colored-unquote hotel in Memphis). Talk of the Civil Rights Museum was already happening when I was in the area, but was seen by many as a pipedream. And look at it now!

During my idyllic college days, I didn't think much about either. My roadside geek/road geek tendencies were very much in remission then. And my sense and appreciation for history was nowhere near as sharp (some would say obsessive!) as it is today.

These thoughts were going through my head today as I googled the Lorraine, hoping to filter through all the present-day NCRM ... I wanted to find vintage pictures of the motel back in her prime. Back when it was "just another motel." I checked e-Bay. Nada. Certainly the Lorraine had a postcard. All motels did, after all.

Then again, maybe not for these quote-colored-unquote motels. Back then, travel for African-Americans wasn't the idyllic pastime as it was for us honky crackers. One mandatory piece of literature for black travelers was something called The Negro Motorist Green Book. Or "the Green Book" for short. It was a travel guide with a state-by-state/city-by-city listing of accommodations and restaurants that were, in the present vernacular, "black friendly."

"Carry your Green Book with you. You may need it," the cover states in a very disturbing tone. The idea was to save one from embarrassment (or worse!!!!!) were a traveling black family find themselves facing motels, restaurants and service stations that would've sooner let a skunk in bed with them than serve a person of color.

ANYway...... I suppose sending postcards gushing with messages like "Having a great time on the road, we'll make Dallas tonight, damn these Louisiana roads they're terrible, but that diner in Ruston was divine! Love, Ethel" wasn't a regular practice of black travelers back then. Not when most of them no doubt traveled with a leery eye to any pitfalls that might lurk. Hoping their car wouldn't break down. Or be tagged by the police.

Well, my searches came up largely dry, except for a picture I found which gave me chills when I first saw it:
What you're looking at is Room 306 of the Lorraine Motel mere hours after MLK was shot. A Life magazine photographer (Steve Schapiro) found himself on that very motel balcony, and took the ballsy step of entering King's room. There you see everything just as MLK left it. A half-filled coffee cup sits on the table, along with a spent half-pint of milk. Styrofoam cups and - God love 'em - those rippled motel drinking glasses. The wadded shirt. His suitcase.

And the television was still on. Schapiro looked up and saw a newscast, and the graphic behind the anchor with Dr. King's face. And that's why he took this picture. Here's a closeup of the TV:
The television got my first attention (I'll pause while you say "That's SO not like Talmadge Gleck!"). It's a stately 19-inch Philco "Starlite" black-and-white model. A thing of beauty.

My first thought (after I stopped swooning over the Philco!) was, "That's not Walter Cronkite, nor is it Chet Huntley." I was able to zoom in further on the TV's channel selector. It was tuned to Channel 3. WREC-TV (now WREG), which - then and now - is the CBS station in Memphis.

Either this is from a CBS News special ... or else it's from Channel 3's 10:00 p.m. (Central time, remember) newscast. The graphic image and text behind him looks a bit too well-produced (read: network quality) for 1968 Memphis television, but the anchor doesn't look like any CBS personality I know of back in that day. And looks very much like longtime Channel 3 newsman Paul Dorman. Below is a line-art drawing of Dorman, from a circa-1973 TV Guide advert...
For me, it's pictures like the one Schapiro took which drive historical events past home. It isn't the well-worn "pointing" picture; it's the empty milk carton, open suitcase and still-on television which breathes a disturbing reality into what happened. The coffee cup, according to Schapiro, was half full -- implying that King was still nursing it, and was out on the balcony just for a minute to chat with his entourage.

Look again at that picture. The television is showing an obituary visual ... for the man whose suitcase and other items you see below it!! If I think about that long enough, it royally creeps me out.

This is history. A friend of mine said once that it isn't just in the books or pictures; history lays in the story it tells.

And 40 years later, we all lament this loss. And I for one can only imagine just how harmonious we all would've become if Dr. King were still around.

Ciao for niao.

--Talmadge "Can we overcome?" Gleck