Being There…or we knew the bride when she used to marry rockers….

Pattie Boyd’s autobiography is a fascinating and messy piece of memoir that offers sometimes illuminating, sometimes banal insights into the private lives of two of the rock era’s iconic figures – George Harrison and Eric Clapton...and raises a slew of bigger questions…

Wonderful Tonight: George Harrison, Eric Clapton, and Me by Pattie Boyd (image courtesy Goodreads)

When Tom Snyder asked John Lennon in the famous Tomorrow Show interview why he became a musician and formed a band, Lennon replied slyly, “For the birds, Tom. That’s why every guy does it. To get girls….”

Pattie Boyd was one of the most famous of “the birds….”

A few years ago Boyd published her autobiography which I just re-read as part of my 2014 reading list. It should be a riveting read for anyone interested in rock music, rock history, or rock stars in our popular culture.

But it isn’t.

Before we go into why, exactly, Boyd’s autobiography causes arguments, it might be useful to talk a little bit about reasons why people are famous. Continue reading

More than marketing: The Blueflowers and the New Wave of Americana

I’ve never much cared for the musical genre broadly known as Americana, and lately I’ve been thinking about why this is. I suppose it’s acceptable to say hey, I’ve listened to a lot of these artists and most of them just kinda bore me, but that seems unsatisfactory for a guy who thinks about music like I do.

After some reflection, I think it comes down to a couple of issues. The first one, I admit right up front, is objectively unfair of me, but there is a part of me that associates Americana with the Baby Boomers, and in particular sees it as a late, faint attempt by the post-Reagan iteration of the cohort to recapture lost authenticity. Continue reading

"Light this Candle"

It’s been a big week for the USA.

First, American troops raided Osama bin Laden’s compound in Pakistan and killed al Qaeda’s leader.

And today is the 50th anniversary of America’s first manned space flight. On May 5th, 1961, Alan Shepard lifted off from  Cape Canaveral for a 15 minute flight that got America on the board against the hated Soviets, whose hero Yuri Gagarin had not only already flown in space but had orbited the earth some weeks earlier.

While Shepard’s flight was only a jog compared to Gagarin’s, it had plenty of drama. The US was trailing the Soviets in rocket technology and the previous two launches (one with a dummy astronaut) had gone off course and subsequently  had to  be destroyed.  No one at NASA could say for certain that Shepard might not go the way of his mannequin predecessor.

In fact, Shepard’s flight was delayed three days as NASA technicians tried to solve potential flight problems. Continue reading

On Richard Pryor: It was something he said

Richard PryorThe great medieval poet Geoffrey Chaucer created timeless characters in his Canterbury Tales; archetypal personalities such as the Wife of Bath and the Miller endure to this day. Through them Chaucer could readily celebrate, criticize and satirize different aspects of the society of his time. Additionally, Chaucer, as a public servant and man of the people, preserved a vernacular that may otherwise have been lost.

The late Richard Pryor, often hailed as the greatest comic to ever take the stage, is the American Chaucer. A master storyteller in the grand tradition of West African griots, fired by passion and pain, possessed of keen insight, he was also a brilliant impersonator with amazing range, an intuitive actor who never got his due, a social critic, a writer, a folklorist, a philosopher, and, most importantly, one funny motherfucker… Continue reading

Do Svidaniya, Yuri and Vladimir

If you’re a Boomer, particularly a Boomer male, the “space race” resonates with you as much, maybe more than JFK,  Beatlemania, or Vietnam. You spent a lot of Saturdays wishing the most recent Mercury/Gemini/Apollo mission would release its hold and that all systems would be go so the spectacle of the launch itself could flicker on your TV – and you could get back to watching cartoons.

But the astronauts themselves were rock stars – before there were rock stars. They were real, live American heroes – and while I and many of my generation found ourselves torn between widely varying (although not so different, we now know) heroic types, no one doubted the couragesometimes tragically expressed – of our space explorers. We lost  some of our guys (including my personal favorite, Gus Grissom) – but we had to beat the Russians. If they took over space, life as we knew it would be over. Over….

And they had the first space hero – Yuri Gagarin. Continue reading

The end of an era, man

Good old Owsley Stanley, purveyor of the best LSD ever, I’m assured, and designer of, among other things, the good old Grateful Dead’s Steal Your Face logo, as well as much of their sound system and sound, has died. Not from an overdose, as one might expect—Stanley was pretty pristine regarding what he ingested, as the NY Times obituary attests. Rather, from an automobile accident in Australia, where he had lived much of his later life. Stanley achieved legendary status in the 1960s, that best of decades, through his skills in chemical manufacture, but as he always said, he only started manufacturing LSD because he wanted to be sure of what was in it. He only ate meat, too. He is probably best remembered by some as the supplier of acid to Ken Kesey’s trips festivals described hilariously in Tom Wolfe’s The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test, which recounted Kesey’s adventures among the psychedelics, not to mention the Hell’s Angels, much like an anthropological study written entirely from the right hemisphere.
Continue reading

Capitalism, raw and bloody

by Terry Hargrove

I took my family to the aquarium in Mystic last week, because it was Presidents’ Day. I’m lying. I took them because I like the aquarium. True, the price of admission is steep, the fish all look small and terrified, and the over-priced food isn’t very good, but we enjoy the beluga whales, and I can‘t look at penguins without cracking up. A penguin is Nature’s stand-up comic. But at the end of the day, I had to balance the joy of penguins by facing the horror of the gift shop.

“Dad? Can I have this stuffed shark?” Joey asked.

“No,” I said. “How much does it cost?”

“Only $44.95,” he said.

“Oh. Then I’ll change my answer. From no to Hell No.” Continue reading

Driving cars

by Terry Hargrove

When I turned 16, all my friends assumed I would get a driver’s license. So did The Dad, my brothers and sisters and my girlfriend. The pressure was intense, but I resisted. There was no need for me to drive, since all my friends had cars and they seemed to enjoy driving a lot, so I just went along as the designated passenger. It was great. And since gas cost 27 cents a gallon in 1971, I saved literally dozens of quarters by not driving.

Still, I received lots of concerned stares from my classmates. They didn’t understand, and I couldn’t tell them. I was terrified of driving. I had only driven a car once, in 1972.  David Simpkins and I were in the drive-through lane at the Dairy Delight, when he jumped out of his car to talk to some girls just as the car in front of us moved up. I sat there as the car behind me began to blow its horn. I waved at the driver, but he just honked his horn again. Probably an out-of-towner, I thought.

“Pull the car up,” shouted David. What choice did I have? There were girls present. I broke out in a cold sweat, slid over, threw the car into drive (I think it was drive. There was a D in there, somewhere) and pressed the accelerator. David‘s car jerked forward and plowed right into the side of the building.

“I’m OK,” I wheezed. “I’m not hurt.”  Continue reading

That's life: Life by Keith Richards

By Patrick Vecchio

At the start of the second chapter of his autobiography, Life, Keith Richards of the Rolling Stones writes, “For many years I slept, on average, twice a week. That means that I have been conscious for three lifetimes.”

That means three lives’ worth of Richards’ memories from the golden age of rock ‘n’ roll, right? Well, kind of. It seems Richards spent one of those extra lives as a heroin addict and most of another one feuding with Stones front man Mick Jagger. He spares no ink on those topics, so Life actually works about to about a life and a half. Having said that, it still lends itself to being read in big chunks. Fans of classic rock will devour it.

The book begins by establishing a main theme: It’s always been the Stones vs. the Establishment (read: police), and the Stones make a fool of The Man every time. Continue reading

A fond farewell to all my friends

 by Terry Hargrove

As 2010 draws to its dark and inevitable end, I would like to take this opportunity to say farewell to all my friends and readers at Scholars and Rogues. It was a great run, far better than I ever deserved, but it’s over now. I cannot fight the Ouija board.

Let me explain. I have mentioned in earlier posts the great, traumatic event of my childhood. In 1965, my two older sisters came into possession of a Ouija board. They asked various girly questions such as who liked who, who really liked who, who would marry first, and who would be the first to have children, then moved to more worldly matters. It predicted that a movie star would one day be president, the collapse of the Soviet Union, how a television station would one day rule the country. You know, ridiculous crap.  I scoffed and guffawed. So, to quell my laughter, they asked the board “How old will Terry be when he dies?”

The board replied “55.”

“You made it say that,” I jeered. “What year will I die?”

The board replied “2010.”

I ran to get paper and pencil, and added 55 to the year of my birth, 1955, and got…OK, I must have added wrong, so I erased that problem and added 55 to 1955, carried the 1 and got…

Damn. You see, the recessive math gene runs deep in the Hargrove family, so I didn’t think my sisters could perform such a complex calculation in their heads. Maybe the Ouija board was right? But what did it matter. 2010 was 45 years away. Continue reading

Firemen and Dorothy Hamill

by Terry Hargrove

When we first married in 1995, Nancy and I put our unattainable romantic crushes out on the table. I told her that I had a thing for the figure skater Dorothy Hamill. True, I’ve never met Dorothy Hamill, nor have I ever talked to her. Still, she’s been my dream girl since 1976. I was afraid Nancy might laugh at this juvenile crush, but she understood perfectly well.

“It’s funny you should mention that,” she said. “Because I also have a secret crush. Oh, it’s silly. Let’s talk about something else.”

“No, it’s not silly at all,” I countered. “I mean, knowing who we admire says a lot about who we are as individuals. Dorothy Hamill has such grace and style. I know it sounds childish, but there’s a part of me that will always love her. So who is your secret crush? Dennis Quaid? Ronnie Howard?”

“Firemen,” stated Nancy directly. “Would you pass the peas?” Continue reading

John…

It was 30 years ago today.

The above line can be sung to the tune of the opening theme of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.

The irony of the above phenomenon is lost on a culture focused on relentless self-pity and proving that anything is snark-able – or who are as certain as Evangelicals are of going to Heaven that they are better arbiters of taste in good music and the right way to do politics than all those stupid Baby Boomers.

They (those dumb-assed Boomers), apparently, would (and still do) listen to and think about The Beatles with reverence and awe when it’s clear to those who really know that The Beatles are a) overrated; b) old fashioned; c) less visionaries than clever imitators with access to world wide distribution of the ideas they stole from others….

And their leader, John Lennon, was a pseudo-intellectual poseur with a penchant for cruelty – and bad taste in women. After all, he committed the ultimate wrong in this more knowing culture’s estimation – he chose someone he loved over someone hot…. Continue reading

When coaches ruled the Earth

by Terry Hargrove

When I was a kid, giants walked the earth, and I knew one of them. He was my junior high school football coach and on a warm September night in 1969, I made him very angry. His name was Bo Culbertson, and he was angry because I missed a block. Now, in my defense, I did block somebody, and it was a fine block. I was assisted by Ronnie Dalton, our right guard. Ronnie was blocking who he was supposed to block and I was helping, and we blocked that poor kid from Pulaski nearly all the way to the sideline. But the person I blocked wasn’t the person I was supposed to block, and the game we tied, we should have won, and would have won if not for me.

Let’s go back to the beginning. In the Tennessee of my youth, a football coach was one of the most revered people in the whole town. The first football coach who ever yelled at me was Coach Bo. I think he enjoyed yelling at me, because he did it a lot, but my dad assured me that what I was doing was good for Coach Bo, and therefore good for the team. I was his emotional outlet. He was a good coach, and for the two years that I played at Connelly Junior High School he had a record of 12 wins, 3 losses and 1 tie. Even though he is credited with the tie, that tie was really mine. I did it, all by myself. I know, people say it takes 11 players to win or lose a football game, but we all know this is something we made up so our field goal kickers won’t leave the team to join the French Foreign Legion after a chip shot sails wide right. One person, all by himself, can do a lot of damage to the team. Continue reading

Assassination fascination and the shooter on the grassy knoll

Monday, November 22 is the forty-seventh anniversary of JFK’s assassination.

The weather in Dallas that afternoon could not have been more beautiful. President Kennedy, with the top down in his limousine, took full advantage of the sunshine and warm temperatures, waving to the throngs of people lining the motorcade’s route and flashing his winning smile. Camelot had come to central Texas.

Farther down the route, overlooking Dealey Plaza, Lee Harvey Oswald waited, rifle at the ready. The scope on the gun was a little wobbly, the lens in the scope a little blurry, Oswald’s marksmanship skills a little questionable—but Oswald had his mission. Continue reading

From Me to You

You have to start somewhere, so I’ll start here.

There was a guy in my elementary school named Lee W. (I’m leaving out his last name in case he’s out of prison – which is where he was in the last gossip I heard about him – oh, 30 years ago). Lee had “failed” a couple of grades, so by the time we were in the sixth grade (the last year of elementary school in those more innocent times) he was about 13 or 14…or 15. He was huge to the rest of us 6th graders – both physically and psychically.

I attended one of those old schools made of red brick that had huge windows that the teacher had to climb up on a stool to close. Those windows had ledges – and Lee would climb up on one of those ledges while the teacher was writing on the blackboard then leap out the window into the shrubbery below (usually a drop of 4-6 feet) and head off for the neighborhood store down the street where he would “buy” pockets full of candy. He would then come back to school and by guerrilla tactics make his way back to class.

Sometimes the teacher would notice he’d gone and he’d get into trouble. Sometimes she wouldn’t notice. Those times made him loom large in Burton Grove School myth. Continue reading

Report says pistol shots preceded Kent St. shootings: let's wait and see on this, shall we?

The story: Tape analysis: Pistol shots preceded 1970 Kent St. shooting deaths of 4 students.

Let me be the first to wade in with a caution here.

  1. I need to know a good bit more about the person doing the analysis and
  2. I would be interested in knowing if he’s being compensated.
  3. If so, by whom?
  4. There’s allegedly a 70-second gap? If I think I’m under fire it won’t take me that long to shoot back.
  5. And let’s not forget that in the hearings it became clear that the soldiers fired in the opposite direction of where they said they thought they heard fire. Continue reading

Superhero

by Terry Hargrove

The new Batwoman is gay. Really. I don’t have an opinion about that, since I don’t read comic books anymore. Still, I can remember when she carried her crime fighting equipment in a purse.

When I was a kid, video games were called comic books. They were great because they were filled with superheroes who didn’t require an emotional investment, they were very cheap and they were full of advertisements. The ads were the second best part of the comic book. We all wanted some X-ray glasses, or free chameleons, or a Charles Atlas guide to beating the crap out of beach sand-kickers. Every guy in my neighborhood wanted to win the huge chest of plastic army men, over 288 pieces, that could be yours if you only sold a few Grit magazines or packs of seeds or boxes of Christmas cards. And when it came right down to it, who didn’t need magazines and seeds and Christmas cards?

But the best thing about comic books was the dream, intoxicating almost to madness, of being a superhero. I was hooked as were we all. More than that, we believed superpowers were attainable, and already enjoyed by a lucky few of us. Continue reading

Unsolicited Pimpage: Rock & Roll Tribe

Here’s another in our occasional unsolicited shout-outs to people and groups we like.

You’re probably hooked into a variety of social networks, but Rock & Roll Tribe is a little different. It is, as the tag line suggests, a “community for kickass grown-ups.” Music is at the center of most conversations, but it’s more than that. It’s a social net that’s by, of and for those of us whose spirits are younger than our knees. That’s how I see it, anyway. In addition to the online activities, RnRT is also pushing local get-togethers and inviting meaningful contributions from folks like you.

One of the founders is the eminent Bruce Brodeen, he of Not Lame renown. And that alone makes it cool.

Drop in. Sign up. Rock out. Continue reading

Slip of the tongue

by Terry Hargrove

When the first George Bush was president, I was a Dan Quayle fan. Not of his policies mind you, but of his speeches. The former vice president turned saying just the wrong thing into high art, such as when he tried to remember the motto of the United Negro College Fund: A mind is a terrible thing to waste. For Vice-President Quayle, this somehow jumbled in his mind and came out of his mouth as “What a waste it is, to lose one’s mind.”

I miss Dan Quayle because, in some quantum way, I’m just like him. When my greatest desire is to be profound, the weirdest things jump right out of my mouth, and I wonder how Vice President Quayle kept his composure, knowing that wherever he went, hundreds of cameras and reporters were waiting to pounce on his verbal gaffes. One of the hardest truths about people is that they never forget the truly ridiculous. Neither does my wife. Continue reading

The Future (insert scream here)

by Terry Hargrove

One Saturday morning in 1965, mom dragged us to the Western Auto Store on the Lewisburg square. I was 10 and Glenn was 12, so we were really too old to be taken shopping, but make a single mistake with a bottle rocket inside the kitchen, and suddenly you can’t be trusted.

“Why are we going to Western Auto?” asked Glenn.

“To see something,” said mom.

“What?” I asked.

“The future,” she replied. Continue reading