Hate is OK starting Friday afternoon

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The 2021 National League Division Series (NLDS) between the Milwaukee Brewers and Atlanta Braves will be the first-ever postseason meeting between these two franchises. Milwaukee finished the season with the better record of these two division champs (95-67), clinching the NL Central nearly a week before the Atlanta Braves (88-73) wrapped up the NL East.

Thus, Milwaukee has home-field advantage in this best-of-five series. What a matchup: an intimidating and slugging Braves lineup against a Brewers pitching staff that’s amongst the best in baseball.

How do I feel about the Braves, more than 50 years after they rode out of town?

Here’s a blog I wrote last October:

Goodbye Milwaukee Braves Banner | Photograph | Wisconsin Historical Society

Milwaukee baseball fans were sucker punched in 1965. Their beloved Braves played their final season here and moved to Atlanta the following year.

My father was an usher at Milwaukee County Stadium every season the Braves played there. He’d work his regular job all day for the Post Office, wolf down dinner at home, and then rush to the ballpark to return home much later in the evening.

I rarely saw my father cry, maybe a handful of times, if not, even fewer. One of those times was when he and I drove to the stadium in September of 1965. Dad would occasionally sneak me under the turnstile to see a ballgame which wasn’t a problem because attendance wasn’t good at that time.

As we turned right on National Avenue onto the drive into County Stadium it was clear Dad was unhappy and I asked him what was wrong. Dad was succinct and to the point when he replied that the Braves wouldn’t be around anymore.

Henry Aaron of the Braves was a boyhood hero of mine. So even with the Braves now calling the South their home I still followed them. They still had ‘Hammerin’ Hank.” And Eddie Mathews. And Rico Carty who one year flirted with hitting .400. I cheered for players, not as much the Atlanta team.

Then we got the Brewers. What little allegiance I had with the Braves disappeared quickly, and I developed a disdain for the team that dumped our city, breaking the hearts of so many loyal and loving fans.

In the early to mid 1990’s when I worked in the news department at WTMJ Radio the station’s program director Steve Wexler gave me an additional duty to go along with my news gathering obligations. Every day for WTMJ’s highly rated morning drive show I was to produce and voice a “radio column,” a radio equivalent of a newspaper op-ed piece.

During one of those on-air columns, and I don’t remember the context, I talked sports. And it might have been the Atlanta Braves. Or the Chicago Cubs. To me they’re interchangeable.

I mentioned that I hated the Braves. Or the Cubs. Didn’t matter. I said I hated one or both. Probably was the Braves and I included everything you’ve just read. Probably Ted Turner and that annoying tomahawk chop, too.

About a week later I got a handwritten letter from a listener. The woman disclosed that she had always listened to when I previously worked at WUWM Milwaukee Radio, and she found me to likable and admirable. That’s why she was so disappointed for me to express hatred…on the radio. The letter writer was a Catholic nun.

How did I respond? I sent off a letter of my own and discussed it in another “radio column.” When I said I hated the Braves, sorry Sister, I did mean it, but from a sports perspective. Certainly I wasn’t wishing their next plane trip would crash. However I’d root for the Russians before I’d ever stomach backing the Braves.

The Rundown on Braves vs. Brewers | 10/04/2021 | MLB.com


“Mayberry” comes to life

Broadcast for the first time on January 22, 1962…

A better place.

A better time.

If I had a time machine, I’d make a beeline to Mayberry. Maybe even set the dials for the day Barbara Eden got off that bus.

Except the quaint cozy town was fictitious.

Andy Griffith was born and raised in Mount Airy, North Carolina, a community that was the inspiration for Mayberry in the classic comedy “The Andy Griffith Show” and its spinoff, “Mayberry, R.F.D.” Now, Mount Airy has reinvented itself as a destination for fans who come by the hundreds of thousands each year. CBS Senior contributing correspondent Ted Koppel visited Mount Airy to find out what attracts so many nostalgic for a show created more than 50 years ago.

Good stuff in spite of Koppel’s blatant effort to inject racial and political elements into his story, who, in my view, got his hat handed to him. For that the video is worth watching.

ICYMI…

Friday Night Forgotten Oldie: The greatest album of all-time?

Marvin Gaye's 'What's Going On' still relevant and revealing, 50 years on

Singer Marvin Gaye surprised the pop music world 50 years ago today, May 21, 1971. Known for his soulful ballads Gaye released a totally different message album focused entirely on social commentary.

“What’s Going On” is filled with songs from the perspective of a Vietnam vet who has recently returned from the war and deeply reflects on inner city problems.

Motown’s Berry Gordy was at first reluctant to release “What’s Going On,” thinking the scat vocals and jazzy sound weren’t contemporary enough. But the single took off, so Gordy instructed Gaye to within a month come up with an entire concept album of similar material.

Last September when Rolling Stone published its latest ranking of the 500 Greatest Albums of All Time, “What’s Going On” was listed as #1.

In honor of the album’s anniversary, a new animated lyric video for the song came out today.

Gaye’s father was a violent alcoholic who made no secret that he never wanted his son. At one time Gaye said, “By the time I was twelve, there wasn’t an inch on my body that hadn’t been bruised and beaten by him.”

“My husband never wanted Marvin, and he never liked him,” Alberta Gay, Marvin Gaye’s mother explained. “He used to say he didn’t think he was really his child. I told him that was nonsense. He knew Marvin was his. But for some reason, he didn’t love Marvin, and what’s worse, he didn’t want me to love Marvin either.”

On April 1, 1984, Marvin Gaye and Marvin Gay Sr. argued. Gaye reportedly allegedly began beating his father until his mother, Alberta, separated them. While Gaye was talking with his mother in his bedroom and trying to calm down, his father reached for a gift that his son had once given him: a .38 Special.

Gay Sr. entered the bedroom and saying nothing shot his son once in the chest. Gaye fell to the floor and Gay Sr. shot him a second and third time at point-blank range.

Marvin Gaye died the day before his 45th birthday.

Goodnight everyone, and have a wunnerful wunnerful weekend!

Every Friday night we smooth our way into the weekend with music, the universal language. These selections demonstrate that despite what is being passed off as art today, there is plenty of really good music available. Come along and enjoy.

This Monday marks the 29th anniversary of the death of bandleader and TV celebrity Lawrence Welk.

Whoa whoa whoa, Kevin! Are you actually devoting your Friday night music feature… to him?

Well, as a matter of fact, I am.

You do realize you’re taking a big chance?


How so?

Kev, Kev, Kev. Your audience, man. They may have already abandoned you. Probably never even got this far into the blog.

Hey, the guy was a star.

Yeh, but he wasn’t cool or hip. Corny. Hokey. Campy. Kinda cheesy. And those costumes…crazy.


That’s what made his program so popular. I would also submit wholesome. Clean. Successful.  With talented, gifted musicians. And I’ve got examples. So travel back with me to a time that was sweeter, more innocent that gave generations many memories.

Back when I was a kid television choices were limited. You had NBC, CBS, ABC, public TV, and an independent local station. That was it.

In the Fischer household there were certain couldn’t miss TV shows. Like “The Fugitive.” “The Ed Sullivan Show.”  “The Hollywood Palace.”  “The Man from UNCLE.” “The Avengers.” “The Big Valley.”  “Batman.”

And on Saturday nights, “The Lawrence Welk Show.” A regular ritual, our family warmly sat together , never missing a minute of the cornball hour.

Lawrence Welk was inescapable. Even if we paid a visit to a relative’s house on a Saturday there was a 100% chance the TV there would be tuned to ABC, Welk’s home for 27 years.  And there I was, being a good boy, but secretly I was in my room with my transistor, listening to the Beatles on WRIT or WOKY. Later I would realize how skilled those Welk performers were, especially the orchestra that when unleashed had quite a sound. Welk called it champagne music.

Never an innovator, Mr. Welk’s criteria for success was to keep it sweet and simple: play the proven standards the people want to hear, in the simplest of arrangements, and in less than three minutes just in case someone did not like a particular song. It was safe-and-sane TV entertainment, painfully predictable and stable and wholesome.

For that, he went virtually without praise from within the TV industry itself. His reward came from his audiences, those who could not wait for their weekly taste of ‘uh-one and uh-two’ accompanied by a succession of Champagne Ladies, accordionists and talented instrumentalists.
Tom Gorman, The Baltimore Sun

Welk had a different theme to his program every week and often paid tribute to a singer, musician, musical group, or holiday.

In addition to the orchestra there was plenty of singing and dancing. A popular feature was the dancing team of Bobby Burgess and one of the three partners he performed with every week. One of the original Mickey Mouse Club Mousketeers, Burgess won a 10-week contest on the Welk show in 1961, dancing with Barbara Boylan. Both were 19 at the time.

Here Burgess is paired with Cissy King.

Welk wasn’t nuts about the instrumental, but his music director George Cates told him that he’d record it if Welk didn’t. Fortunately for Welk he changed his mind. “Calcutta” went to #1 for a few weeks in February of 1961.

Time for a short break from the Welk program with a group that appeared as the bandleader’s guests a few times. John Williams conducts the Boston Pops that accompany the sweet harmonies of the Mills Brothers. From the “They don’t write them liked they used to” file.

Now watch and listen to Welk’s treatment that really swings.

Mr. Welk was an unlikely candidate for national fame, but parlayed his German accent, charisma and a keen discernment of Middle America’s musical taste into a business empire founded on television, records and music publishing. At first uneasy as a television personality, fearful that his fourth-grade education would betray him, he soon enough became smitten by the love affair he developed with his audiences.

Still, he was ever gracious to his fans and the proud patriarch of his so-called Musical Family of studio musicians, dancers, singers, entertainers and support crew members, serving as a gentle but firm disciplinarian and preacher of conservative values.

Long-time band member Barney Liddell, a Roman Catholic, recalled Mr. Welk’s reaction when he divorced his wife and later remarried. Mr. Welk, himself a Catholic, fired Mr. Lidell from the band after he announced his intention to remarry.

“He said I’d be living in sin and that’s not right. But then he talked to three guys in the band — a Jew, a Methodist and a Presbyterian — and they said, ‘Why don’t you let him run his life and you just run his trombone.’ So he called me back on my wedding day and said I had my job back.”

Norma Zimmer, who became his last Champagne Lady in 1960, said that Mr. Welk would seldom lose his temper. “He was always in control. You knew he was upset [only] because he’d just beat his leg with his baton. That was his sign that things weren’t right.”
Tom Gorman, The Baltimore Sun

That’s it for this week.

Goodnight.

Sleep well.

Have a wunnerful weekend.

We close with one the best musical pieces of all-time and a huge favorite of my late father.

Friday Night Forgotten Oldie: Dead or alive?

This week our blog is reminiscent of the The Friday Night Fights on TV sponsored by the Gillette Razor Company from 1948-1960. 

AND NOW WHAT YOU HAVE ALL BEEN WAITING FOR.

THIS IS THE MAIN EVENT OF THE EVENING.

LET’S MEET THE OPPONENTS.

IN THIS CORNER, WEARING LEATHER, BLACK AND WHITE MAKE-UP, AND A DARK RED TOUNGUE, FROM THE ROCK GROUP, “KISS,” GENE SIMMONS!

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AND IN THE OPPOSITE CORNER, WEARING RUNNY BLACK MASCARA, LEATHER GLOVES, A CROSS, AND VERY LARGE OMINOUS SNAKE…THE ONE AND ONLY, ALICE COOPER!

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The bell sounds and we’re underway!

A fiery Simmons comes out swinging.

Jab, jab. Jab. Furious rights and lefts. Simmons is relentless!

“Rock is dead. And that’s because new bands haven’t taken the time to create glamor, excitement and epic stuff,” Simmons said. “I mean, Foo Fighters is a terrific band, but that’s a 20-year-old band. So you can go back to 1958 until 1988. That’s 30 years. During that time, we had Elvis, The Beatles, Jimi Hendrix, Rolling Stones, on and on.

“In disco, you had Madonna, and then you had your hard rock, you had AC/DC, maybe us, a few others.  Motown, all that great music. From 1988, until today, that’s more than 30 years. Tell me who the new Beatles is. You can’t. There are popular bands. All kinds of bands are very popular. That doesn’t mean iconic and legacy and for all time. It’s different.”

“I doubt it (if time will tell if some acts are going to be iconic in another 30 years). Because the singularity that was The Beatles is a band that wrote their own songs, arranged it themselves, produced it themselves, mostly played all their own instruments. No backing tracks. No digital enhancement. No vocal correctness. Yeah, not gonna happen again.

“You know, the modern artists rely so much on technology. You may not be able to recognize the artist if they record themselves singing in the shower. You’d be shocked. And none of the rappers play instruments. Don’t write songs. They write words. But chords, melodies, harmonies and stuff. It doesn’t mean that rap isn’t important. It’s very important. But it ain’t The Beatles.

“I think Billie Eilish is fantastic. She’s interesting because she and her brother actually write the material and are unique to themselves. Lady Gaga is fantastic in the female category. She writes her own material, she can sing like nobody’s business. But she actually is a musician, writes her own songs, plays piano, she can actually do that. The rest of the world reacts to a lot of the pop divas, although mostly they don’t write their own songs and can’t play an instrument. And by the way, that’s okay, too. It doesn’t matter what you like. But it ain’t The Beatles.”

Cooper was momentarily dazed and stunned by Simmons, but now is responding with his own attack!

“Gene Simmons – I would like him to do my taxes because he’s a businessman and that’s valid, but I guarantee you right now that in London somewhere, in garages, they’re learning Aerosmith and Guns ‘N’ Roses.

“There’s a bunch of 18-year-kids in there with guitars and drums and they’re learning hard rock. It’s the same with the United States: there’s all these young bands that want to resurge that whole area of hard rock.

(Rock is) “where it should be right now. We’re not at the Grammys; we’re not in the mainstream. Rock’n’roll is outside looking in right now, and that gives us that outlaw attitude.” (Rock will still exist) “some thirty or forty years from now. The one kind of music that started and never ended was hard rock. It went to punk, it went to disco, it went to hip-hop, it went to grunge, but the one thing that went through the middle of it was hard rock.”

Maybe it’s because I’m old school and nostalgic. But if I was a judge scoring this fight, I’d give the decision to Simmons.

Time now for a talented act of two brothers.

Johnny Winter was a leading American blues performer. As a child he played the clarinet, but switched to guitar. Good move.

When Winter broke into the national spotlight in 1968 he was a commanding figure onstage. He was tall with pale blond hair and light eyes, features from albinism.

In 1969 Winter played the famous Woodstock festival and released his debut album on Columbia records.

His younger brother was also an albino.

“People have always stared at me,” said Edgar Winter in a 1974 interview. “They still do, but now they have a better reason.”

Edgar Winter is legally blind, more than 85% due to his albinism. As a youngster he couldn’t play sports or sight-read music.

“I didn’t have many friends. You know the way kids naturally are if you’re fat, crippled or in any way defective. They tend to leave you out. So music became my identity and replaced the normal activities that otherwise would have filled my life.”

Winter’s blindness allowed him to develop an ear where he could listen just one time to almost any tune and then play it. He’s a talented keyboardist, saxophone player, drummer, and singer.

“Being albino always gave me a very real sense of individuality” he said in 1974. “Today, in music, a lot of people will do anything to themselves just to set them apart. I guess I’ve had a natural edge on them.”

In 1976 Johnny and Edgar released “Together,” a live album recorded at The Swing Auditorium, San Diego Sports Arena, in San Diego, CA,  that included this exciting medley (listen for the Little Richard woooooos).

Image result for image, photo, picture, johnny, edgar winter, together, album coverEdgar (L) and Johnny (R)

Johnny Winter died in July of 2014. He was 70.

That medley was phenomenal.

“Looked at my watch and much to my surprise, I was dancin’ with a woman who was twice my size.”

No, they don’t write them like they used to.

Friday Night Forgotten Oldie: She said she couldn’t do it

The very talented Sam Cooke sang with the gospel group the Soul Stirrers before going on to a successful but brief solo career. His list of hit recordings includes “You Send Me,” “Wonderful World,” “Chain Gang,” “Twistin’ the Night Away,” “Another Saturday Night,” and “Only Sixteen.”

Cooke had been out the night before on the morning of December 11, 1964, drinking at a Los Angeles bar where he became friendly with a woman. The two ended up at the Hacienda Motel. An altercation in their room ensued. Cooke went to the motel’s office and argued with the manager who shot and killed Cooke. The manager claimed self-defense. The case was ruled justifiable homicide. Cooke was 33. Last Friday would have been Cooke’s 90th birthday.

From the album liner notes of “Portrait of a Legend 19511964”:

Another of Sam’s increasingly familiar Latin numbers. This one stemmed from a Christmas 1958 party at Lou Rawls’ stepfather’s house. At one point in the evening everyone was doing the cha cha, even the little kids, and Sam was watching his five-year-old daughter, Linda, when all of a sudden one of the kids called out, “Everybody, cha cha cha!” They were all just having a good time, said J.W. Alexander, and Sam grabbed a piece of paper and set the lyrics down while everybody else was dancing. When he went into the studio the week after New Year’s, he laid it down just like that. “I think the secret is really observation,” he told Dick Clark years later about the key to all of his successful hit songs. If you observed what was going on and were in tune with “the times of your day, I think you can always write something that people will understand.”

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BONUS! From my dad’s LP collection.

To close we change gears.

Last year the film One Night in Miami was released, depicting a meeting between boxing legend Muhammad Ali, civil rights leader Malcolm X, NFL legend Jim Brown, and Sam Cooke. The film  dramatizes the hours following Cassius Clay’s upset victory over Sonny Liston. Clay (Eli Goree) headed out with Brown (Aldis Hodge), Malcolm X (Kingsley Ben-Adir) and Cooke (Leslie Odom Jr.). They went to the Hampton House Motel, a popular establishment among black visitors to Jim Crow–era Miami.

The closest I ever got to Jeopardy

I was saddened to hear of the death of Alex Trebek at the age of 80. The longtime host of Jeopardy had been battling pancreatic cancer.

Trebek’s passing reminded me that somewhere buried in my basement is a tape of an in-person studio interview I did at WUWM in the mid 80’s with Art Fleming, the original host of the popular game show.

Fleming only had words to say about Trebek but I clearly recall he had one major complaint about the TV program. He claimed the questions, or answers if you will, had become much too easy and that when he was host they were more difficult making for a more competitive show. Fleming said the producers of the newer program wanted to build audience and popularity by giving away larger cash prizes.

Fleming died, can you believe it, of pancreatic cancer on April 25, 1995, just two weeks after he was diagnosed.

Is it ever OK to hate?

Goodbye Milwaukee Braves Banner | Photograph | Wisconsin Historical Society

Milwaukee baseball fans were sucker punched in 1965. Their beloved Braves played their final season here and moved to Atlanta the following year.

My father was an usher at Milwaukee County Stadium every season the Braves played there. He’d work his regular job all day for the Post Office, wolf down dinner at home, and then rush to the ballpark to return home much later in the evening.

I rarely saw my father cry, maybe a handful of times, if not, even fewer. One of those times was when he and I drove to the stadium in September of 1965. Dad would occasionally sneak me under the turnstile to see a ballgame which wasn’t a problem because attendance wasn’t good at that time.

As we turned right on National Avenue onto the drive into County Stadium it was clear Dad was unhappy and I asked him what was wrong. Dad was succinct and to the point when he replied that the Braves wouldn’t be around anymore.

Henry Aaron of the Braves was a boyhood hero of mine. So even with the Braves now calling the South their home I still followed them. They still had ‘Hammerin’ Hank.” And Eddie Mathews. And Rico Carty who one year flirted with hitting .400. I cheered for players, not as much the Atlanta team.

Then we got the Brewers. What little allegiance I had with the Braves disappeared quickly, and I developed a disdain for the team that dumped our city, breaking the hearts of so many loyal and loving fans.

In the early to mid 1990’s when I worked in the news department at WTMJ Radio the station’s program director Steve Wexler  gave me an additional duty to go along with my news gathering obligations. Every day for WTMJ’s highly rated morning drive show I was to produce and voice a “radio column,” a radio equivalent of a newspaper op-ed piece.

During one of those on-air columns, and I don’t remember the context, I talked sports. And it might have been the Atlanta Braves. Or the Chicago Cubs. To me they’re interchangeable.

I mentioned that I hated the Braves. Or the Cubs. Didn’t matter. I said I hated one or both. Probably was the Braves and I included everything you’ve just read. Probably Ted Turner and that annoying tomahawk chop, too.

About a week later I got a handwritten letter from a listener. The woman disclosed that she had always listened to when I previously worked at WUWM Milwaukee Radio, and she found me to likable and admirable. That’s why she was so disappointed for me to express hatred…on the radio. The letter writer was a Catholic nun.

How did I respond? I sent off a letter of my own and discussed it in another “radio column.” When I said I hated the Braves, sorry Sister, I did mean it, but from a sports perspective. Certainly I wasn’t wishing their next plane trip would crash. However I’d root for the Russians before I’d ever stomach backing the Braves.

That’s why I couldn’t be happier that they will NOT be going to the World Series that begins tonight. The Los Angeles Dodgers took care of that.

Braves players (from left) Marcell Ozuna, Freddie Freeman and Travis d'Arnaud watch the final outs of Game 7 of the National League Championship Series against the Los Angeles Dodgers Sunday, Oct. 18, 2020, at Globe Life Field in Arlington, Texas. The Dodgers won the game 4-3 and the series 4-3.  (Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@ajc.com)

Oh yes, she had appeal

Actress Diana Rigg has died of cancer at the age of 82. Rigg starred in “Game of Thrones” but I’ll always remember her as the action girl Emma Peel in the 1960’s TV series “The Avengers” where she partnered with Patrick McNee who played detective John Steed.

Emma Peel also stood for M-appeal, or man appeal.

Linda Thorson replaced Rigg. She was dreadful. Think of Yvonne Craig as Batgirl, only half as athletic.

Friday Night Forgotten Oldie: Bell bottoms, mini skirts, go go boots and dancing

I was fortunate to be involved in broadcasting in one form or another for nearly 40 years. The business can be very exciting and rewarding. It can also be mean and cruel.

This week ABC fired Tom Bergeron and Erin Andrews as hosts of the very popular program “Dancing With The Stars.” Both took the news gracefully.

“It’s been an incredible 15 year run and the most unexpected gift of my career. I’m grateful for that and for the lifelong friendships made. That said, now what am I supposed to do with all of these glitter masks?” said Bergeron.

“Thank you ABC and the entire Dancing With the Stars family for 6 memorable seasons. Those years wouldn’t have been as special without my loving host Tom Bergeron, the talented dancers, and witty judges. I will always cherish my days on that set, even if I wasn’t the best at walking in heels,” said Andrews.

Producers should have dumped one of the judges, the arrogant fossil Len Goodman. Actually all three judges were suspect in their reviews and could have been shown the door.

Heading into its 28th season, the show has teamed up professional dancers with celebrities in a competition where TV viewers get to vote week to week determining which teams advance and which get sent home.

Green Bay Packers receiver Donald Driver and Peta Murgatroyd won the title in 2012.

Often the program has top notch entertainers perform.

Late last year, a 73-year old Cher was a guest and executed one of those Nat King Cole-Natalie Cole duet productions with video of her late ex-husband Sonny Bono.

Sonny wrote this 1967 hit that peaked at #6.

EXTRA

On this day in 1968, Yellow Submarine, the animated film by the Beatles premiered in London. The film features the Fab Four as cartoon characters who agree to travel with Young Fred in his Yellow Submarine to free the people of ‘Pepperland’. Under attack from the music-hating Blue Meanies, ‘Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band’ sails to the rescue and restores the landscape of color, flowers and music.

The actual Beatles did the songs, but participated only in the closing scene of the film, directed by animation producer George Dunning. Their cartoon counterparts were voiced by actors.