Archive for March, 2010

Happy Big 4-0 to My Buddy Jeff

March 30, 2010

It’s a big year for me and all my childhood friends.  Everybody’s entering their 40’s.  I just wanted to offer a tribute to my old pal Jeff, who I met on the school grounds at Bernardo Yorba Junior High in 1983.

Jeff commented on the Stray Cats pin (pins were kind of the thing in those days) on my jacket, and we struck up a conversation about music.  So it turned out he was as big a 1950’s and rockabilly music fanatic as I was, and a lifelong friendship was born.  I remember it like it was yesterday even though it was 27 years (gulp) ago.  Where do the years go?

I have to say Jeff is an all-around great guy.  My family got to know his family well, and we enjoyed a lot of good times together over the years.  We both acquired old cars – his 1955 Chevy and my 1957 Chevy.  I remember scraping layers and layers of paint off his old car with airline stripper – all over his dad’s driveway.  Like a couple of goons we both installed CB radios in those cars so we could talk to each other from time to time while driving.  For those too young to know, there were no cell phones in those primitive days.

Jeff got me a job working for the California Angels as a bat boy in 1986, which was a unique experience.  His whole family also worked at Disneyland for awhile.  We had lots of fun riding the train (his dad was a Disneyland Railroad engineer).  We had a lot of good laughs, listened to some great music, joined a classic Chevy’s club where everyone but us was in their 50’s, played in a band together with Jeff on drums and our friend Steve on bass (we won a battle-of-the-bands at Jeff’s high school, which included a performance with Big Sandy fronting our band on vocals), and generally had a great time growing up in Southern California.

Later, in 1992, Jeff was best man in my wedding, and I was honored to be in his a few years later.  We both have four kids now and some gray hair, but we’ve kept our young hearts and remain like brothers.

Good friends are hard to come by in this world.  I can honestly say I’ve had the good fortune to find one of the best.  He is decent, loyal, honest, and fun.  There are a lot of great memories I could share about my pal Jeff, but there is no time or space  for it all here.  Happy birthday, buddy!  Here’s looking forward to many more years of our families enjoying time together!

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Lost Transmission Episode #6

March 19, 2010

Well, I’m finally back after several months with a new episode of Lost Transmission.  Basically, you’ll get a new episode whenever I encounter a major bout with insomnia.  In this episode, enjoy a musical tribute to Fess Parker, some Irish rockabilly in honor of St. Paddy’s day, plus much, much more!

Fessin’ Up: I’m Missin’ Fess

March 19, 2010

My boys and I were at the annual Cowboy Gathering at the Booth Western Art Museum in Cartersville, GA this past weekend.  We enjoyed a demonstration in gun-slinging by Jim Dunham, a gun tricks consultant for 20th Century Fox and movies like Tombstone.

I struck up a conversation with Mr. Dunham after the show,  and during our talk he casually mentioned that he had been friends with Fess Parker for many years.  It was just a passing reference.  Although much younger than Mr. Dunham, I shared the same apparent fondness for Mr. Parker.  My 10-year-old son was standing by my side.  He perked up too and said, “Hey, I know who Fess Parker is!  He’s Davy Crockett!”, much to the surprise of Mr. Dunham.

Such is the legacy of Mr. Fess Parker.  His name just came up in casual conversation, and three full generations – a man in his 60’s, and man entering his 40’s, and a boy of 10 were all well-acquainted with the same icon of American popular culture.

I have to say as a child growing up in the 1970’s in Southern California, I enjoyed a healthy dose of Fess Parker.  Countless trips to Disneyland’s Frontierland (complete with the Davy Crockett Arcade) helped mold my sense of adventure and love for the American frontier.  I loved to run around the old Tom Sawyer’s Island Frontier Fort at Disneyland and pretend to be Davy.  Of course watching reruns of the Mickey Mouse Club on TV were enough to hook me on the legendary presence of Fess and the great Ballad of Davy Crockett.    He may not have been much of an actor in hindsight, but he was Davy Crockett to me and always will be.  The first time I saw John Wayne portray the hero in The Alamo I nearly laughed;  and Billy Bob Thornton was a travesty playing Davy in the later version of the Alamo story.  Are you kidding?

In a strange twist of fate, I work for a man named Dave who is about as obsessed with Davy Crockett as I am.  He even named his son Davy and constantly quotes the old Crockett adage, “Be sure your right, then go ahead.”   I’m sure he and I will talk about today’s passing of Mr. Parker in days to come.

One of my favorite LP’s when I was a kid was this one I bought at the Disneyland gift shop when they still sold vinyl LP’s.  I still have it, and it adorned my boys’ room wall for a time, too.  The album is really a collection of movie tracks taken from various scenes from the old black and white Disney Davy Crockett adventures with Davy fighting Red Stick, getting Old Betsy, and defending the walls of the Alamo.

A few years ago, I also found a 45 version of the Disney Davy Crockett story and bought it for my kids.  Of course we have the complete film series on DVD – and Davy as Daniel Boone, too!  My kids have memorized every bit of these, and we have a whole drawer full of coonskin caps.

Of course Fess played numerous other roles, including a notable role as the dad in Old Yeller.

Ironically, just a few months ago, I posted a story here at Lost Transmission about a killer find in an antique store consisting of a Walt Disney’s Davy Crockett comic book with guess whose picture on the cover?  Of course…Fess Parker.  My two older boys read the whole thing the first night.

When my 10-year-old son heard the news about the passing of Mr. Parker today, he actually shed a tear.  It’s sad when heroes die – especially a hero who touches so many generations.

What else can I say about a man who had such a profound influence on my sons, on me, and on my dad’s generation but, “Thanks, Fess.”

I think this song – words penned by the real Davy Crockett himself – is appropriate for his parting.  Farewell, Davy.

Vinyl Valhalla

March 9, 2010

Thanks to my father-in-law, I am now the proud owner of a late 1960’s model Magnavox turntable console.  I ordered a new needle for it, and it finally came today!

It’s been awhile since I had a decent platter-spinner that didn’t require rigging up a spaghetti-like mishmash of wires, amps and speakers.

Now through the magic of modern mid-century technology, I can simply slide open the top, drop my favorite rockarolla disc (in my choice of 33 or 45 RPM’s) onto the turntable, and get caught up to the 7th sonic heaven of retro sounds on beautiful, warm vinyl .

The last LP I bought back in the late 1980’s (just before mainstream records stores finally went completely to the dark side and stopped selling vinyl) was Reet Petite by the incomparable Jackie Wilson on Ace Records.  The block-lettering and the bright red cover with electro-explosion graphics caught my eye.  Of course the deciding factor was that Jackie Wilson was also the greatest R&B singer ever, in my humble opinion.  It was a must-have.  I picked it up at Tower Records in days of yore.   But I digress.

All my records are smiling again – fulfilling their purpose in this world instead of frowning in a dark box on a dusty closet shelf in the spare bedroom.  It may be time to throw together a new Lost Transmission podcast to celebrate…if I can find the time.

Welcome back, my little licorice pizzas.  It’s good to hear you again.